Thoughts on Recovery II: Body Image Boogaloo
July 28, 2003
I feel like I turned a corner this past weekend. I’m not back to normal, of course, but I think I can see it from here. I think I might be able to stay alert and focused long enough today to watch a DVD. I think I might be able to do some quilting, even. I’ve certainly been racking up post-op firsts. On Friday, I shaved my legs for the first time since surgery, put on jewelry and makeup, and went out to eat in a restaurant that didn’t have a drive thru. I then proceeded to nearly fall asleep on my sister-in-law’s couch after dinner, so it wasn’t quite like old times. Yesterday I put my contact lenses in for a few hours; that’s progress. So is getting off Vicodin; I’m heading in to day three without that particular pain reliever, and it’s been going okay. My belly hurts, but it’s tolerable.
Another thing I did for the first time post-op was weigh and measure myself on Saturday. I’d already been on the scale, the day after I got home. I found I gained three pounds during the time I was in the hospital. That really didn’t seem fair. One of my friends warned me that would happen, that it happened to her, that I shouldn’t weigh myself when I got home, but I just had to see. Man, here I had hardly eaten anything for days, and had even had parts removed, and I was still heavier. Sure, there were still IV fluids in me, plus extra blood sloshing around, but I didn’t find that very much consolation. As of Saturday morning, I was 154, half a pound less that my weigh-in the week before surgery, so I felt a little better. Then I pulled out the tape measure. Everything was about the same as the last time I checked, a quarter inch down here, a quarter inch up there. But my waist, that was not the same. I had to check a few times before I believed what I was seeing. My waist was a full inch and a half bigger. Wow.
I knew my stomach was bloated, but somehow seeing it quantified like that surprised me. I wish I’d thought to measure my waist when I first got home, to see how much it’s changed. In the hospital, I had what to me was a huge pot belly, evident even when I was lying down, which is usually the time my stomach looks its flattest. (What was obviously out of proportion to the rest of my body to my eyes wasn’t to everyone’s though; one of the residents looked at it at and asked me “does it always look like that?” and I was very tempted to smack him. He thought my belly bulged out like that every day? Was it the saddlebags on my thighs that led him to this conclusion? I definitely felt really fat for a few moments there.) Since then, it’s gotten better, but it’s still clearly distended, even when I’m flat on my back. But I can feel my hipbones again, so that’s a good sign. I’m really hoping without the fibroid bulge that my stomach will end up flatter than before, but I’ll just have to be patient and wait for it to recede into its final form before I can see if that’ll be the case.
I am disappointed that I don’t know how much my fibroid and uterus weighed. My doctor assumed that the pathology lab would collect that information, but when he got the report back, they hadn’t. Don’t they know that’s important? Sure, it’s nice to know the stuff wasn’t cancerous, but it’d be really nice to know how heavy it was. I do know that the tumor had grown; my doctor described it as “bigger than a softball” and “the size of a small cabbage”, working both the sports and food metaphors, and seemed rather impressed. It is strange that I felt a little bit of pride that I’d grown something that big?
Hey, I take my ego boosts where I can get them. I need a lot of them right now, to take my mind off my incision, which runs from my pubic bone to just below my belly button. I got a good look at it yesterday when I changed the gel healing pads I’ve been wearing over it since I took the surgical steri-strips off last Wednesday. It’s more jagged than I’d hoped and a little off center. It’s bumpy and ripply and red and ugly. I know it’s still healing, and it will look better in a few weeks, but right now I don’t like seeing it. Fortunately, the pads are almost opaque and nearly make it disappear from view. I can still feel it, though. There’s pain when I move and sometimes in bed I’ll run my fingers over the ridge of it, trying to see if it’s getting any flatter. So far, it’s hard to say if it is.
So here I am, bloated and sore, but at least not any heavier than before. I’m not supposed to be on a weight loss diet right now, so I’m trying not to worry about it. I’m trying to eat like a normal person, meaning not obsessing over every mouthful and eating when I hungry and stopping when I’m full. I think it may be working; I went to a buffet brunch yesterday and didn’t gain any weight at all. I’m also trying to be active without pushing myself too hard (I don’t want a hernia, oh no I don’t). I’m not allowed to workout, but I can walk, and I’ve been doing that. I debated whether to put it on the [ExerciseLog], since the walking I’m doing now is not like the walking I was doing before. Those first few days out I was really slow and shuffling, but I’m getting a little faster and stronger each day. I went ahead and logged it because I want to recognize that I’m making an effort. Small accomplishments will lead to bigger ones and before I know it I’ll be back to normal.
A year ago, give or take a day, I was recapping my weekend. Not exactly Mighty Big TV material (yes, I know it’s Television Without Pity now, but my brain goes to MBTV first).